Vital services and officers would be lost by Bedfordshire Police without the full precept increase for 2021/22, a meeting heard.
A contribution of £15 extra per council taxpayer (for the average Band D householder) over the next financial year was unanimously approved by Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel.
This will put the policing element for a Band D tax bill at £227.09, an increase of 7.08% compared to 2020/21.
“I deeply regret having to ask for any more funding from you at a time of such economic uncertainty,” Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway (PCC) told the panel.
She asked for “the maximum precept allowed within Bedfordshire without recourse to a referendum and that will be at an average of less than 30p a week“.
Referring to a public survey, she said: “Despite the economic climate the majority did support the rise, although a smaller percentage than last year overall.”
The survey statement from the PCC explained: “Without raising the council tax precept by £1.25 a month, which pays for 38 per cent of your policing, Bedfordshire Police and the public would be in the position of losing services and officers.”
These losses could include:
- 15 PCSOs, crucial community support posts, in 2021
- Five experienced staff at force control room, who answer calls for help from the public on 999 and 101, while also monitoring CCTV and starting a crime investigation
- Vital investment in cyber crime defence and investigation systems
- Warrants officers, who ensure named offenders are traced and brought to justice when wanted by the courts or for recall to prison
- Ten investigation officers, who would have to be replaced by ten police officers removed from street duties to handle the investigative role
- Specialist staff in trial management, who ensure the best possible file quality to gain successful prosecutions and justice for victims of crime
The PCC added: “The budget paper makes clear, I will deliver to you exactly what I promised, an increase in officers in every year of my term, even this year for which I was not elected to serve, and that’s 153 more officers.
“Of these, 100 will be replacements for leavers, with 51 brand new posts, as part of the uplift which is promised nationally for Bedfordshire Police, and two officers as part of our commitment to the eastern region special operations unit (ERSOU), which concentrates on serious organised crimes and counter terrorism.
“The core grant from the government is up by £4.3m. But, without the precept as well, this wouldn’t allow me to protect all of those vital areas which I specified to the public and they clearly understood.”
Bedford Liberal Democrat Newnham councillor Hilde Hendrickx said: “I’m disappointed and angry that we have to resort to an increase in the police precept to balance the books.
“This is because, as the PCC has alluded to, the continued underfunding of our police force.
“This means more and more of the financial burden goes on to the council tax and hence falls on the shoulders of our residents, especially in these times when people are losing their jobs and families are struggling.
“Really every penny counts for them. I believe our police and our residents deserve better.”